772 views | Akpan Akata | March 23, 2021
In partnership with AfricaRice, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is facilitating agricultural solutions to overcome hunger and poverty in Nigeria and Togo.
It is aimed at implementing agricultural transformation in the two countries towards achieving Zero Hunger project.
AfricaRice is a pan-African Centre of Excellence for rice research, development and capacity building. It contributes to reducing poverty, achieving food and nutrition security and improving livelihoods of farmers and other rice value-chain actors in Africa by increasing the productivity and profitability of rice-based agri-food systems, while ensuring the sustainability of natural resources.
It is one of 15 international agricultural research centers of CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future. It is also an intergovernmental association of African member countries.
It was established under the name, West Africa Rice Development Association (WARDA) by 11 African countries and officially began operating in 1971. Recognizing the strategic importance of rice in Africa and the effective geographic expansion of the organisation, its Council of Ministers took a historic decision in 2009 to change the organisation’s name to Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice).
Today, AfricaRice’s membership comprises 28 African countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo and Uganda.
Its strength lies in its locally-tailored rice research-for-development capacity with on-the-ground knowledge and networks. The Center has led ground-breaking work on many fronts that is transforming the lives of millions of rural households in Africa. It has contributed significantly to boosting Africa’s rice sector through improved seeds, cropping practices, processing technologies, policy advice and capacity development.
The modus operandi of the Center is partnership at all levels. Its research and development activities are conducted in collaboration with various stakeholders—primarily the national agricultural research systems (NARS), academic institutions, advanced research institutions, farmers’ organizations, non-governmental organizations and donors—for the benefit of millions of African farmers and other actors of the rice value chain for whom rice means food and livelihoods.
Headquartered in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, AfricaRice has a staff complement of about 230 members, out of which 40 are internationally recruited staff, based in Côte d’Ivoire and in research stations in Madagascar, Nigeria and Senegal and in project sites in Liberia and Uganda.
AfricaRice receives funding from governments, foundations, international financial institutions, development banks, the private sector, as well as from the CGIAR Trust Fund.
However, the three-year project will contribute to the zero hunger initiatives within the rice and cassava value chains in both countries. It will leverage technology and innovation, policy analysis, and policy engagement for technology uptake to achieve its objectives.
In its approach, the Project aims to increase rice and cassava farming system productivity and improve nutrition by adopting locally developed and tested agricultural technologies and using innovative crop management practices.
Debo Akande, the project lead, notes that “achieving Zero Hunger is a fundamental human right; this is what this project is about.” He further explains that the Project would involve three Nigerian states (Benue, Ebonyi, and Ogun) and two Togolese regions (Plateaux and Kara).
The Project will target 200 policymakers involved in policy review, analysis, and enhancement at the regional, state, federal, and central levels in both countries. It will also engage 35,000 smallholder farmers (45% women, 20% youth), 100 agricultural extension and advisory service personnel, and six small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in rural and urban areas, including millers and retailers.
The Project’s implementation will focus on four components to achieve its goals: Policy instrument assessment, a productivity increase of rice and cassava farming systems, capacity building and policy enhancement, and project management.
The Project will indirectly benefit over half a million rural and urban dwellers who will have increased access to information, practical knowledge, and high-quality food commodities for consumption.